Labor Day Weekend is second only to the Memorial Day Weekend in terms of the percentage of alcohol-related traffic fatalities across Oregon. Law enforcement agencies in Oregon, in partnership with the Oregon Department of Transportation, is joining NHTSA's national impaired driving enforcement blitz 'Drunk Driving. Over the Limit. Under Arrest' that runs through Sept. 4.
Out of the 10 people who died in Oregon traffic crashes during the 2005 Labor Day weekend, three were killed in 19 alcohol-related crashes. That equates to 30 percent of all the state's traffic fatalities for the three-day holiday last year, in which there was a total of 266 crashed in Oregon.
'Alcohol is a factor in more than a third of all Oregon traffic fatalities,' said Gretchen McKenzie, coordinator for the Oregon Department of Transportation Safety Division's Impaired Driving Program. 'The odds of being killed are many more times higher when alcohol is involved in a crash.'
A conviction for driving under the influence of intoxicants can lead to driver licenses suspension, in addition to expensive fines and perhaps legal fees as well. Refusal to take a breath test when requested by law enforcement will result in an enhanced suspension, and a citation under ORS 813.095 punishable by a fine up to $1,000.
In addition, Oregon safety laws have zero-tolerance for drivers under the age of 21. Any amount of alcohol detected in a minor driver violates Oregon law.
'People who plan on drinking should not plan on driving,' said McKenzie. 'And never get into a car with a driver who has been drinking.'
There are options to help people get around if they have been drinking. They can make sure their group has a designated driver who won't be drinking, or they can volunteer to be a designated driver. People also can use public transportation or taxicabs.
In addition, drivers should report impaired drivers by calling 1-800-24DRUNK or 911 if they spot someone whose driving clearly is an immediate danger to themselves and other people.